Safe City Driving
Driving in the city is challenging, especially if you’re not used to it. If your normal roads are in the suburbs, city streets will just have more of everything: more people, more cars, and more potential distractions. Here are 10 hazards of city driving and how to navigate around them.
Between advertisements, jaywalkers, honking horns, and all the other hallmarks of city life, there are enough distractions on the road. Eliminate distractions that occur within your car. These can include cell phones, the radio, passengers or pets, food and drinks, and more.
The GPS might know where you’re going, but it won’t always know the best way to get you there. Roadwork, traffic, and even one-way roads can throw off your navigation system. Don’t blindly listen to the GPS: continue to read street signs and use common sense to avoid hazards.
Maintain a safe traveling distance. Whenever you see a potential hazard in the road or on the side of the road, remove your foot from the accelerator and cover the brake. This will allow you to slow down or stop more quickly, if needed.
If you can, avoid driving during rush hour, when city streets become more congested. Rush hour peaks between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., and 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Fewer cars on the road will mean safer conditions for your car – and less frustration for you.
When driving in areas with high foot traffic, such as cities, it’s important to stay vigilant. Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, and keep an eye out for jaywalkers or people returning to a parallel-parked vehicle. Exercise extra caution in bad weather, when you might have trouble seeing pedestrians.
While bicyclists are supposed to follow the same traffic patterns as cars, they don’t always do so. Watch for bicycles and scooters whenever you turn, cross an intersection, back up, or park. Yield to them as you would to a car.
When merging into another lane, take note of every car, bike, pedestrian, and potential hazard around you. Generally, you should stay in your lane while on city roads. If you need to change lanes due to an obstruction or an emergency vehicle, exercise caution.
Seasoned city drivers will advise you to drive assertively, but not aggressively, in the city. Still, there’s a chance you’ll encounter an aggressive driver on the road. Stay alert and aware of the road, and don’t engage with the aggressive driver. Take a deep breath. Once you make it through the traffic, you’ll both be able to go your separate ways.
Be aware when a vehicle is about to parallel park – or when its driver or passengers are about to enter or exit the car. Master your own parallel parking technique before attempting to park in the city.
Leaving Your Car
According to NHTSA, a motor vehicle is stolen every 40.9 seconds. Even if thieves don’t succeed in stealing your vehicle, they might go for the items you keep there. Take your car key and valuables with you any time you leave the car, close and lock all doors and windows, and park in well-lit areas.
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